Just under 12 miles from Charleston with a sleepy, southern vibe, Johns Island, South Carolina is a lovely place to visit in the spring. The largest island in South Carolina and fourth on the East Coast, its 84-square miles of natural beauty blends easily with historic sites and high-quality restaurants reminiscent of Charleston.
Johns Island is a pristine haven for boating, fishing, kayaking and other water sports. Folly Beach welcomes sun worshipers with its scenic picnic areas, souvenir shops, a 1,000-foot-long pier, and habitats for pelicans and other wildlife. This barrier island is also home to the famous Angel Oak, an ancient southern oak tree that’s named after former plantation owner Justus Angel. Locals tell tales of former slaves’ spirits visiting when night falls.
World-class golf courses are found on nearby Kiawah Island where the Ocean Course attracts top golfers from all over the world. With its sprawling views of the Atlantic Ocean and strong winds coming off it, this course was once named the toughest in America by Golf Digest. It has hosted the PGA and Ryder Cup championships. Four other excellent courses in the area offer additional options.
At day’s end, there is pampering to be had at several spas, including a local favorite called Cottage Aroma Bella Day Spa. Cozy pubs and taverns help guests unwind, and nearly a dozen local breweries encourage you explore the tastes of the region.
WHERE TO DOCK:
St. Johns Island main dock on the Stono River rents slips for the day and will lend you a courtesy car to explore the island. They claim to have the cleanest bathrooms on the East Coast. Reserve ahead.
WHERE TO DINE:
Chef and owner Richard Hege was once an executive chef in Manhattan and more recently cooked at Margaux’s Restaurant in Raleigh, NC. His latest restaurant specializes in seafood with a French accent and also serves classic American, coastal and local cuisine.
At this charming rustic eatery, old world Italian is mixed with a modern twist. Locally grown, seasonal dishes are paired with exceptional wine in a cozy environment. Must try: mashed fried potatoes with truffled aioli, scallions and parmesan. Wild Olive is proud to follow Green Restaurant Guidelines.
Nationally acclaimed Chef Fred Neuville and his wife Joan are at the helm of this restaurant located in the heart of the Johns Island farming community. Known for its Sunday brunch, its menu showcases Lowcountry comfort cuisine.